Jax has talked about her path to Paganism a few times in the realm, but I haven’t really delved into the details about my path. There is a reason why I haven’t. My story is deeply, intensely and unequivocally….boring. My story doesn’t involve any awful experiences that pushed me away from one religion or any amazing experiences that pulled me towards another. It doesn’t include any profound philosophical epiphanies about life the universe and everything. There weren’t any moments of intense doubt followed by elated confidence. My faith journey is seriously lacking in juicy bits. Like I said….boorriiing.
But you know…that’s okay. While I do feel a calling to be spiritual, to frame the universe as more than a sum of its parts, I choose to answer that call and I choose how to answer that call. My spiritual path is a trail of stones that represent choices. The weight and time I exert standing on each stone determines the composition of the next one. I don’t always know what the next step will bring until I stick out my toe.
As a girl, I was fortunate — hmm, I’m not sure that’s the right word but it’s all that comes to mind — in that no one in my immediate family gave a hoot about my soul. As far as my mother can recall, I was never baptised (though my older siblings were baptised Episcopalian). We didn’t talk about God in my house, save the frequent, “Goddamnit! Which one of you kids <insert impish child behavior>?!” (Which invariably resulted in a chorus response, “Not me!”) We didn’t talk about heaven or hell or damnation or salvation. Religion wasn’t emphasized in any tangible way in our daily family life.
In retrospect, this was liberating. I never felt pressured to believe one way or another and felt free to explore non-traditional ideas. My mother was raised a tad more traditionally. (I mean “tad” in a sincere way, not in a sarcastic way.) Her family belonged to a church and she went to Sunday school. But other than that, religion wasn’t a tie that binds (binded? bound?) in her childhood home. My father, to the best of my knowledge, was raised more or less like I was. I think his ideas about religion and faith were significantly shaped by his time in Thailand, which is where he was stationed during the Vietnam War. If he had any concrete ideas about God before his service, I think exposure to a different faith made those ideas more porous.
That being said, any references to religion at school or from friends assumed Christianity and Jesus and God were beliefs everyone shared. I mean, I have no idea if I grew up with any Jewish kids or Muslim kids or Pagan kids in my K-12 classes. No one ever said boo about being different religiously. So when I was kid, I joined everyone else on the giant rock that was Christianity. It was steady stone, flat and wide — like bedrock (the geological rock, not the Flinstones’s hometown). But I couldn’t stay still. Christianity just didn’t fit. My ideas about society and relationships were shaped far more by Gene (Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek) than by Jesus. I didn’t much care about the afterlife, especially when there was so much to be joyful about and concerned about during life.
In my early 20’s, I decided it was time to step on a new stone. Hello agnosticism. Hello freedom from commitment! This stone was smooth and pale and felt cool next to my skin, like a smoothed river rock. It was very comfortable. For a while. It became too smooth; I kept slipping off. Something was gnawing at me. It was like this stone held me up, but it didn’t lift me up. Does that make sense? I needed more. But it took me awhile to realize that. I recognized this need from the prodding of other people, people who kept telling me I was spiritual even though I kept telling them I wasn’t. Eventually, I decided it was time to step again.
I stepped into Wicca in my early 30s. This stone was more like coral. Absolutely stunning to look at for its wild and unfettered state of being, but jagged and twisted and sprawling in all manner of directions. I felt good to be part of something that was growing rapidly and part of a community that was tangible and organic. And that made me feel safe enough to tell people I wasn’t Christian, I was Pagan. My family’s reaction? A solid and resounding, “Meh.” One of the benefits of being the black sheep in your family is that nothing surprises them when you do something off the beaten path. I didn’t stay on this stone. I couldn’t quite wrap my head — or rather my heart — around the disparate history of this revived religion. It pulled from so many cultures that I couldn’t find my own. For a long while that didn’t matter because I didn’t need to be in touch with my roots. That didn’t become important until I was ready to start a family.
So as I approached 40. I leaped onto the next stone. A stone smooth in places and rough in others. All at once colorful and muted — like agate. I leaped onto Heathenry because the ancestor worship satisfied a deep rumbling in my soul. A need to feel connected, but not controlled. A need to feel responsible to something more than myself without that something having to be divine. What I do affects my family’s wyrd, but I always have the opportunity to smooth out ripples I might create when I am reckless. Lawds knows how many times my foot goes into my mouth a week. [Friends, would you like to guess?] I’m not sure I believe everything Heathenry has to offer, but this feels right enough for right now. This stone is both challenging and comfortable. I feel like I’m standing tall here.
So, that’s my journey. Not very exciting, but not stagnant, either. What about you, realm? How would you describe your faith journey?